School Life and Adolescents' Self-Esteem Trajectories


  • The first two authors (A.J.S.M and C.M.) contributed equally to this article and their order was determined at random: both should be considered first authors. This study was made possible by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) awarded to the fifth author, as well as grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC) awarded to the first and third authors. The authors wish to thank every student, staff member, and research assistant involved in the MADDP.


This study investigates heterogeneity in adolescents' trajectories of global self-esteem (GSE) and the relations between these trajectories and facets of the interpersonal, organizational, and instructional components of students' school life. Methodologically, this study illustrates the use of growth mixture analyses, and how to obtain proper student-level effects when there are multiple schools, but not enough to support multilevel analyses. This study is based on a 4-year, six-measurement-point, follow-up of 1,008 adolescents (Mage = 12.6 years, SD = 0.6 at Time 1.) The results show four latent classes presenting elevated, moderate, increasing, and low trajectories defined based on GSE levels and fluctuations. The results show that GSE becomes trait-like as it increases and that school life effects, moderated by gender, played an important role in predicting membership in these trajectories.